Posting: August 17, 2007
News has broken that Olmert and Abbas have been meeting to work out a framework for the “core” issues of refugees, Jerusalem and borders before the conference proposed by Bush takes place in November. This ran first in Yediot Ahronot, which cited sources close to Abbas.
This is the same Olmert, you understand, who said he would not discuss these issues yet. And, of course, he’s talking to Abbas, who promised he’d have nothing to do with Hamas and yet is meeting with them.
It’s Abbas’s growing interaction with Hamas that takes the edge of this whole business, because it seems likely to make everything fall apart.
PA prime minister Fayyad has denied the Yediot Ahronot report. He says there are no “backchannel” negotiations, although core issues are beginning to be discussed.
According to YNet, in his meeting with Hoyer and other Congressman in the delegation this week, Olmert said that an agreement, which was in the works, would not be implemented yet.
In truth, even if they are talking, it is highly unlikely that Abbas and Olmert are close to an agreement that could be implemented. Abbas will hold out for his terms. Even the maximum Olmert might offer would not be something Abbas could sell to his people, especially as they have become more radicalized under Hamas influence: control of eastern Jerusalem, return to pre-’67 lines and right of return remain sacred principles for the Palestinians. It is a mistake to think that Abbas will moderate in negotiations. It was Arafat’s refusal to budge on issues of refugees and Jerusalem that halted the negotiations in 2000, in spite of the huge package Barak was offering; and, which is little noted, Arafat’s deputy, Mahmoud Abbas was at his side making the same demands.
I do not believe a Palestinian state will evolve from this. But I think it heads us in a bad and dangerous direction that sets worrisome precedents and diminishes Israeli rights. In the short-run, it also creates security risks.
As Aaron Lerner points out, this is no time for complacency. We must be on our guard for dangerous possibilities.
The irony here — and it’s a bitter irony — is that Abbas and company have done absolutely nothing to merit this sort of negotiation that we’re in such a rush to offer. Abbas’s biggest achievement is not being Hamas.
According to a Peace Index poll taken in July, 53% of Israelis are opposed to substantial withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, even if major settlement blocs are kept in place.
US Under-Secretary of State Burns, who is here, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel, to provide us with a military package worth an unprecedented $30 billion over 10 years. This was designed, at least in part, to buy us off with regard to the military aid that the US proposes providing to Saudi Arabia, as well as to promote a qualitative military edge for Israel.
Meetings are being held between Israeli and US officials to determine what Israel will be permitted to buy from the US (money given goes towards buying this equipment — over 75% must go back to the US in purchases) and what the Saudis will be prevented from purchasing.
Aaron Lerner has made the comment that Egypt is doing a substantial weapons build-up that can only be aimed at Israel, and that this should also be taken into consideration.
Please know that there is likely to be a hiatus in these postings of some four days.
Posting: August 16, 2007
The Likud primary was held on Tuesday and Binyamin Netanyahu walked away with 73% of the vote; opponents Moshe Feiglin and Danny Danon (chairman of World Likud and a newcomer to the race) received 23% and 3% respectively.
Feiglin — who’s been pumping to achieve control of Likud — considers this latest figure a sort of victory for his position. My own take is that, while Feiglin represents certain nationalist principles that I respect, he makes statements that are unrealistic (and seem just foolish) and, with his emphasis on religion, has not a snowball’s chance in hell of winning a national election in this nation that has a secular majority. To place him in control of Likud would be to ensure a win by Labor (most likely) or Kadima.
There are those who believe that Feiglin’s increasing strength within the party will pull Netanyahu to the right. But others (among them Aaron Lerner of IMRA) believe that Netanyahu will react by moving left in an attempt to disassociate himself from Feiglin in the minds of the voters. Certainly Netanyahu is making every attempt now (and he plays tough) to diminish Feiglin influence within the party.
Is Netanyahu true to the principles of Likud, and can he be counted upon to maintain a nationalist position? There is no guarantee of any of this. He understands the issues, of this I am certain. But he is capable (has a history) of caving under pressure and is distrusted in many circles. But this is who we have right now: unless something radical changes, our best bet to take down Kadima/Labor in the next election. The composition of his coalition would be key to keeping him honest. I deeply regret that the right wing has not gotten its act together to mount a significant challenge in an election — but they may yet play a role as coalition partners. I note here that MK Aryeh Eldad, a man of integrity with nationalist principles, is on the verge of moving out of Moledet and heading a new party that is in process of forming.
And what of the elections? Now that he’s won the primary, Netanyahu is calling upon Barak to fulfill his commitment to bring the Olmert government down (after having a chance to serve as defense minister, that is). Barak associates are saying that he won’t act until the final Winograd Report — which will be highly critical of Olmert — comes out. But Olmert is a wily politician — as slick as they come. The report was due out this fall, already a postponement from this summer. Olmert is petitioning for the right to come back to the Winograd Committee to re-testify. This is a stalling tactic that may delay the release of the report by some months.
On Tuesday I attended a press conference here in Jerusalem with 17 Democratic members of Congress brought in a delegation by AIPAC. It was not a reassuring experience.
Congressman Steny Hoyer, speaking for the group, explained that they felt there was great cause for optimism. The delegation had just returned from meetings in Ramallah and was impressed that there was now leadership in the PA opposed to terrorism, willing to communicate that opposition to the people and to vigorously act against it. It had been Arafat who was the stumbling block, you see. Surely they were talking about a different PA from the one I know.
In questions I, at least, secured from Hoyer the acknowledgement that words from the PA will have to be verified in terms of action: I’ll be watching for that verification.
Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, was asked by one journalist how he, as a Muslim, sees the tensions in the Middle East. Well, replied Ellison, he wouldn’t make too much of the Sunni-Shia differences. The bottom line is that everyone wants a future for their children, the opportunity to live in a safe community, and retirement benefits for their seniors. If we can get all groups to agree on this he explained, we “don’t have to sweat the other stuff.” Really. He said this.
I came away astounded by what absolute babes in the woods these Congresspersons are, without a clue to what’s going on here. That hopeful naiveté, unfortunately, can do us harm.
I list here the Congresspersons who were present and their districts. I encourage those of you who live in one of these districts to communicate with your Congressperson on the issues. Steny Hoyer (MD-15th); Jason Altmire (PA-4th); Shelley Berkly (NV-1st); Steve Cohen (TN-9th); Joe Crowly (NY-7th); Keith Ellison (MN-5th); Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8th); Gene Green (TX-29th); Phil Hare (IL-17th); Paul Hodes (NH-2nd); Nick Lampson (TX-22nd); Jerry McNerney (CA-11th); Tim Mahoney (FL-16th); Patrick Murphy (PA-8th): Albio Sires (NJ-13th); John Tanner (TN-8th); John Yarmouth (KY-3rd).
The stance of this group makes the position of Rudolph Giuliani, Republican presidential candidate, all the more cause for celebration. Writing in the scholarly journal Foreign Affairs, Giuliani says:
“Too much emphasis has been placed on brokering negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians – negotiations that bring up the same issues again and again. It is not in the interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism…
“Palestinian statehood will have to be earned through sustained good governance, a clear commitment to fighting terrorism, and a willingness to live in peace with Israel.”
Well, here we have the inevitable: In a press conference in Ramallah yesterday (with the Japanese foreign minister), PA president Abbas called on Hamas to “return to national unity.”
“The split that happened as a result of Hamas’s coup is temporary and will be removed,” he said. “The Palestinian people are opposed to this separation because we want a united and independent Palestinian state.”
Hamas, of course, greeted these words warmly and has invited Abbas to Gaza for talks.
Apparently in a gesture of “good will,” PA security forces (Fatah) yesterday released nine Hamas members who had been arrested last month on suspicion of trying to establish an armed Hamas group in Judea and Samaria.
An underground tunnel leading from northern Gaza towards Israel was discovered this week; not yet completed, it had been dug to 700 meters of the border with Israel. Its entrance was hidden by a greenhouse but security forces secured intelligence that exposed its existence. The plan of Palestinian terrorists was to complete it beneath an Israeli site and then pack it with bombs that would be detonated under that site; terrorists may also have been intending to use it to get operatives inside of Israel for attack.
There seems little doubt that while this one was discovered many others exist.
As bad as Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza are — and as much as we will have to contend militarily with forces in Gaza — they do not represent our greatest threat: Iran does. Indirectly, Iran has its finger in all that Hezbollah and Hamas do, but I am referring here to a direct threat. And the news on that front is unsettling.
Yahya Rahim Safavi, Commander-in-Chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, has just delivered a speech in which he detailed the capabilities of his weaponry: They have, he said, missiles that can travel 1,500 miles, which means they can reach Israel. This is not a surprise; he was apparently referring to the Shahab-3 missile. But he added that they had missiles capable of penetrating the armor of the Israeli Merkava tank.
Safavi also directed threats towards the US, with regard to Iran’s capability of taking out all US ships in the area. The US is on the verge of declaring the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group.
The UN Security Council mandate for international forces under UNIFIL to operate inside of Lebanon is up for renewal, as a year has passed since the force was put into place under Resolution 1701. Israel is requesting that the mandate be expanded so that UNIFIL might be more “proactive” — with UNIFIL’s field of operations enlarged to include towns and cities, and permission given for the members of the international force to shoot at Hezbollah before they’ve been fired upon. Indications from European nations is that this request will be turned down. Perish the thought that the international community should take a real role in blocking Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah is actively buying from Christian and Druze owners — reportedly at highly inflated prices — land north of the Litani River. This region, marked by rugged terrain, is perfect for Hezbollah’s guerilla-type combat and is situated beyond the range of UNIFIL operations. There they are actively involved in fortifying positions for fighters and stockpiling weapons.
This is not an action being taken for defensive purposes, you can be sure. Hezbollah possesses Katyusha rockets that can reach Israel even from north of the Litani.
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee on the West Bank has voted to ask Olmert and Barak to authorize Jewish residence in Mitzpe Shalhevet, the market place in Hevron from which two families were just evicted. “We asked the government to give this building back to the community,” said MK Otniel Schneller, who chairs the subcommittee and is a member of Kadima.
I find myself returning again and again to this subject because it has such underlying significance for the future of the state and there is so much misrepresentation about what is transpiring. Not only were 3,000 forces (three thousand!) sent to evict these two families and their supporters, they deliberately destroyed the homes following eviction, homes on which the Jewish community of Hevron had spent many thousands doing renovations.
There have been charges made that the residents of Hevron see themselves as not part of Israel, but what I see is the opposite: that the officials of Israel would read out the residents of Hevron. This response now from the Knesset subcommittee is thus most encouraging.
Posting: August 13, 2007
Before I leave the issue of Hevron and the rights of Jews to live there, I would like to present this food for thought: Why is it that people on the left are concerned with our attending scrupulously to Arab rights but have no concern about Jewish rights within areas that they perceive as Palestinian? The terms “apartheid” and ‘racist” are used erroneously with regard to Israel. But the Arab world broadly — and certainly Palestinian Authority areas — are places where these terms do apply. Even if — and this is an “if” I do not subscribe to — one believes that Hevron should be under Arab control completely and all of Judea and Samaria should be turned into a Palestinian state, why should this preclude Jewish rights to live on Jewish owned land in Hevron?
Look at the difference, please: When we acquired control of Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount, we made it available to the Muslims — we didn’t banish them from the place. (What’s regrettable is how they’ve abused this generous act.) Yet there are a great many people, including liberal Jews, comfortable with the idea that Muslims should banish Jews from the Cave of Machpelah, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, even though it’s a place of enormous Jewish sanctity and part of the Jewish heritage. They have the notion that it has to be exclusively Muslim.
The severe injustice of this mindset rankles.
This is an example of precisely how badly the Muslims have abused our generosity in allowing them continued access to the Temple Mount;
A Muslim summer camp for some 4,000 children has been run on the Mount by the Islamic Movement. The goal of the camp was to teach the children “to be connected to the Al Aksa Mosque and to protect it with their bodies.”
Syria is back in the news again and what’s being reported is not positive. Now it’s being said that, in spite of Olmert’s attempts to be reassuring, Syria is convinced that Israel intends to start a war and is preparing accordingly. The Syrians observed Israeli operations during the war last summer and have planned their capabilities in response to what was learned.
A senior military source has been cited as saying that Syria has acquired the world’s most sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles from Russia. That’s in addition to its huge arsenal of missiles which would hit our north and all the way down to Tel Aviv.
Channel 10’s military analyst says that Defense Minister Barak’s intention, should we be faced with war with Syria, would be to launch a swift and strategic ground assault deep into Syrian territory.
As time passes, this scenario seems less a question of “if” than of “when.”
There was a terrorist attack in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday that has caused a stir in a variety of ways.
One Ahmad Mahmoud Khatib, an Israeli Arab, grabbed the gun from a security guard at the Ateret Kohanim Yeshiva, and then ran through the streets shooting back at a second guard who pursued him –causing injury to 10 bystanders and the guard before he was shot dead. Some witnesses claimed that he was shot after he had fallen down to the ground. Arab MK Ahmed Tibi then made the same charge. His family refused to believe that he was capable of doing what it was claimed he had done and there were acquaintances who said the story was made up to cover Khatib’s murder by the guards.
What followed this furor was a definitive finale: First, the Galilee Liberation Group, an Israeli-Arab terror organization, claimed responsibility for the attempted terror attack. They said they had sent Khatib.
Then — surprise! — the police released a video tape of the whole thing, and indeed it shows that Khatib had grabbed a gun and shot a security guard.
Some 1,000 Israeli Arabs attended Khatib’s funeral. One of them was MK Jamal Zahalka, who refused to believe the evidence of the video tape and said, “We don’t recognize the right of the settlers, the guards, and the security services to be in Jerusalem, which is occupied land.”
Senior IDF officers are increasingly concerned about the military build-up in Gaza and are becoming less reticent about expressing those concerns. One official referred to what’s going on in Gaza as “a security pressure cooker,” implying that it’s only a matter of time before things explode. What the officers are seeing is that Hamas is preparing for confrontation with Israel.
Some draw a parallel with what happened with Hezbollah last year: for six years we knew what was happening with regard to arms build-up, yet failed to respond. They warn that waiting makes the situation more dangerous. The difference between now and our situation with Hezbollah is that “[now] the IDF is prepared for a wide scale operation in Gaza.
“The ball is now in the political echelon’s court.”
Neither is Judea and Samaria outside this situation. Warned Brig.-Gen. Shlomo Brom, “There are still active terror cells there, that have decided to lay low for the meantime, but could definitely become violent should the situation in Gaza change.”
According to PA officials, Abbas has decided to hold elections within the next six months, including in Gaza. Hamas, of course, is still saying they won’t permit this.
What is more, Ahmed Yusef, a political adviser to Haniyeh in Gaza, said that Hamas was holding secret talks with Fatah leaders to resolve the situation, with Abbas having authorized certain Fatah persons to negotiate on his behalf. Abbas, he explained, was keeping the talks on “low flames” to see if he could secure anything from the Americans or the Israelis.
While Fatah is denying this furiously, it sounds just about right to me.
Dore Gold, head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has written a piece, “The dangers of ‘peace’ making,” for The World Street Journal. We tend to think, he says, that trying to make peace can’t hurt, but indeed it can.
“… mishandling the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” he says, “can exacerbate the threat of radical Islam, especially if it deepens the sense in radical Islamic circles that their military efforts have paid off.
“… The errors of past Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking have not been cost-free. They have real consequences in terms of loss of life and a deepening conflict. These initiatives do not halt the assault of radical Islam against the West. In fact, if mishandled, they can make it far worse.”
Posting: August 11, 2007
Motzei Shabbat (after Shabbat)
“Getting It Straight”
Last I wrote I addressed the impropriety of using the IDF for actions against citizens of Israel. Now I want to look directly at the serious error of pulling those who moved into the marketplace — Mitzpe Shalhevet — out of their homes at all. It’s ideology and politics that fuels it — although the impression is lent that it’s about law (i.e., they’re on the premises “illegally”). Long ago I learned about the ways in which problems can be cited to present an impression of illegality, when in fact, if there were good will towards the venture, those glitches could be fixed without a second thought.
No where is this more the case than with Mitzpe Shalhevet. Eighteen months ago, as the residents of the market were to be evicted the first time, an Israeli court recommended that the homes be leased to those residents with full legality but the attorney general, Mazuz, refused. Then at the moment of eviction, representatives of the IDF negotiated a deal, in writing, with the residents: If they left quietly, arrangements would be made to allow them to come back with full legality. Mazuz then said the IDF did not have jurisdiction to make such a deal and voided it. He could have chosen to honor it, especially as the residents left in good faith based on this agreement.
Those promoting this current action — Olmert, Barak, Mazuz and others — have, in my opinion, totally lost their way. They have forgotten, if they ever knew, who we are and why we are here. Looking back over their left shoulder at Peace Now, which is a prime instigator of what’s going on, they ignore Jewish heritage and Jewish rights.
A leftist, self-declared secularist, Yehuda Litani, has written a piece about Hebron in YNet. His statements are egregiously off the mark. My concern is not that he differs with me ideologically, but that he presents a skewed picture that represents the residents of Hevron as instigators and trouble makers who stand in the way of peace. People wishing to live in a place that is part of our Jewish heritage are represented as the enemy of Israel and the stumbling block to peace.
A few examples suffice.
“… more than 160,000 Palestinians live in divided Hebron… alongside several hundred Jewish settlers who over the years have taken over markets, houses and shops based on the argument of “return of Jewish expropriated property.'”
Well, let’s get a few things straight. This IS a case of Jewish expropriated land. For millennia Jews lived in Hevron, and were banished only after the massacre of Jews by Arabs in 1929. The British, for purposes of convenience and in betrayal of their mandate, forcibly moved out the Jewish survivors — who had to leave property behind and were not compensated. Apparently Litani is neither pained nor angered by this historical injustice.
In 1967 we secured control of Hevron, and the movement started to re-establish Jewish settlement in the area that had been Jewish before 1929. As to “taking over” homes, etc., in instances where there had been Arab ownership dating from post-’29, buildings have been purchased for use by the Jewish community. This is the case with Beit Hashalom. In other instances, property had legally reverted to ownership by the Israeli government. This is the case with the buildings in the market — the Arabs have no claim on them, and they stand on land that has been documented as privately Jewishly owned for centuries.
What is more, in 1997, we acted the “good guys” and as part of Oslo we turned over to the PA a full 80% of Hevron. All of what goes on with regard to rebuilding the Jewish neighborhood of Hevron takes place within the 20% that is under Israeli control.
And yet Litani, ignoring Jewish rights, sees the Jews as interlopers and troublemakers.
He says more:
“Following ongoing pressure by the settlers, the Tomb of the Patriarchs – a Muslim mosque in every sense – has been turned into a Jewish synagogue and into a sure source of tension… Abraham’s burial place, the father of Yitzhak and Ishmael, has become – with the active help of the Jewish settlers and Palestinian terrorists – one of the most malignant sites in the Holy Land.”
That he should see the Tomb of the Patriarchs — the Cave of Machpelah, where our patriarchs are buried and which has been venerated as a holy site and place of prayer by Jews for millennia — as “a Muslim mosque in every sense” is an outrage. It became a Muslim mosque because Jews were banished, not because we voluntarily gave it up. And here again he misrepresents. There are separate areas of the Machpelah for Jewish prayer and for Muslim prayer — it is BOTH a mosque and a synagogue today. In fact, there are certain days when, by agreement, Jews are not allowed in because Muslims are celebrating a holiday. But this is not enough for Litani, who would prefer we relinquish our heritage completely.
Most telling is the phrase: “with the active help of the Jewish settlers and Palestinian terrorists… ” So he acknowledges that terrorism is at work here — that the move by Arabs is not legitimate. And yet he does not know how to respect those settlers who are brave enough to take a stand against this and to claim what is ours. He sees the stubborn insistence of the settlers in making this claim as source of tension — better we should relinquish what is ours and make the Arabs happy. That’s how we keep the “peace.”
Sad, indeed. What’s sadder still is that there are members of the government who espouse similar thinking. They have all lost their way, and it is a great danger to the nation. I fear that what is true for Hevron may be true for Jerusalem as well. The Temple Mount is the Jewish site of greatest sanctity, but Muslims claim today that it is theirs. In the spirit of “keeping the peace” Olmert and ilk might see fit to relinquish this as well.
There can be no peace for us unless we are clear on who we are, what our heritage is, what our rights are, and stand strong for these.
What I ask of each of you, please, is to hold fast in your mind to the facts. When you encounter the sort of thinking that Litani advances, view it with a critical and dubious eye.
Remember the report put out by the PA claiming that all but three members of Al Aksa Brigades have, as promised, turned in their guns? That was a report that I, along with many others, found it impossible to take at face value. Well, WorldNetDaily has elaborated: Seems these guys all have two or three guns, and they turned in one of them.
And, according to WND, there’s more to the story: Two members of the Brigades were stopped at a checkpoint outside of Nablus recently. They were found to have been smuggling a large quantity of bullets from Jenin to Nablus. One of them was on the list of those who had been granted “amnesty” and kept saying that arresting him would “blow up” relations with the PA. The soldiers on duty checked with superiors and then released him.
An IDF spokesman said: “We make our arrests in accordance with the directives of the political echelon and the different agreements with the PA.”
A very irritated security official said, “We now have a situation in which a terrorist organization has been given a get-out-of-jail-free card – literally.” He indicated that this was not the first time someone on the list for “amnesty” had violated the agreement.
How stupid can this get?
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat is now insisting that Olmert promised, in his meeting with Abbas, to promptly make public a list of a large number of major roadblocks that Israel is going to remove.
Of course, we don’t really know what Olmert said to Abbas because it was a closed door meeting with only the two of them present. All manner of things can be claimed. My own guess, based on common sense and precedent in such matters, is that Olmert said he would take it under serious consideration or bring it to the proper venues for approval. He is not in a position to unilaterally remove these roadblocks, especially as both security forces and members of his own coalition are opposed; security forces are quite adamant.
Ehud Barak — head of the Labor party and defense minister — has come out on the record as being against any major removal of roadblocks because of security concerns, no matter what Olmert may have said.
According to Yediot Achronot, Barak, in “private conversation” said a great deal more: That any notion of peace with the Palestinians now is “fantasy” because Abbas and Fayyad were not capable of controlling the situation and matters would fall apart. In fact, he was reported as saying that Fatah and Hamas are the same and that the peace process is just “air.”
This is good, if he said it. It’s so right-wing that a member of the right-leaning Yisrael Beitenu party congratulated him on his stance. That alone may have induced his backtracking. An advisor denied that he had said these things, and he subsequently claimed himself solidly for peace with the Palestinians but realistic.
But it’s clear that he is not optimistic about the possibility of peace because of another widely quoted statement attributed to him: That we cannot consider withdrawal from Judea and Samaria for another three to five years, as that is when a missile interception system would presumably be ready.
This is the terribly foolish part of his position. If he knows that pulling back will give the Palestinians latitude to launch weapons at us, the proper position on behalf of Israel should be that there will be no pulling back, at least until terrorist infrastructure is defeated — by the PA or by us.
This notion of enveloping ourselves inside a protective cocoon instead of taking out the enemies at our periphery is very bad indeed. It represents a lamentable shift in official Israeli thinking.
How’s this for incredible: Earlier this summer, as part of the “good will” actions to “strengthen” Abbas, Olmert decided to release 400 million shekels in custom and tax revenues that had been collected but not turned over to the PA when it functioned as a unity government that included Hamas. Now the sole stipulation was that this money not go to Hamas.
It has gone to Hamas.
It was transferred directly into the bank accounts of 3,500 members of Hamas security forces in Gaza, to cover their salaries for a full year. At first, the claim was that it was a “computer error.” When that didn’t play very well, they arrested a key official in the finance ministry, saying he was bribed to do this. This isn’t making PA prime minister Fayyad look very good. He has been touted as the cleanest of them all (or at least was, until recent Hamas revelations of improprieties that occurred when Fayyad was finance minister for Arafat).
Will our people ever learn?
Hamas people are saying this proves that Fatah considers them legitimate after all.
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Fatah and Hamas have already renewed cooperation in several quarters, including health and education.
Depending on the day of the week and the hour of the day, it’s possible to pick up various reports on tensions, rivalries between the factions, but reports are also surfacing about movement within the PA to encourage reunifying of the factions.
The shifts in reports regarding war with Syria tend to be confusing. One day there is likely to be war, the next day not. The official public assessment by Israeli intelligence is that there won’t be a war, but according to an analysis by Ron Ben-Yishai it’s more complicated than this and there is genuine concern in Jerusalem about Syria launching a very large-scale Hezbollah type war. See his complete piece: